British schoolgirls accused of being 'drug mules' are branded 'liars'
Two British schoolgirls accused of being "drug mules" have been branded "liars" after being unable to tell Ghanian police exact details of who gave them lap top bags containing £300,000 worth of cocaine.
Students Yasemin Vatansever and Yetunde Diya, both aged 16 , were arrested at Accra airport carrying the bags containing 14lb of the drug.
Their families in Britain have vehemently protested their innocence and the girls have claim to have been "duped".
But yesterday Mark Ewuntomah, deputy director of the Ghanaian Narcotics Control Board, appeared less than impressed with answers given by the pair when they were questioned by police and customs officers.
"They have not been able to identify the two men they claim gave them the bags yet," he said.
"But they must have known what was in the bag - if you are given a laptop bag there should be a laptop in it.
"They knew they were coming here to collect the bags.
"And one of them told me that they had actually opened the bag and said that there was nothing in it, so I think they are lying. They should have known there were drugs in there.
"The arrangement was that once they got back home they would both be given £3,000 for carrying the drugs back."
He added that the police had not been able to find the two young Accra men - supposedly called "Emmanuel" and "Kwami" - who the girls claimed gave them the bags.
Both girls told their parents they were going to France for a school trip.
However, they flew to Ghana on June 26 and were put up in an Accra hotel before attempting to fly back to Heathrow with two lap top bags they had been given.
The drugs had been sewn into "secret" compartments and were discovered by police and customs officers.
Yesterday Mr Ewuntomah added that the pair had been tearful following their initial interviews and had begged to be flown home.
"They are very scared and they have been crying," he added.
"When they heard that the punishment if they are found guilty is so stiff, Yasemin asked me if they would be allowed to go home, and she was crying.
"But I told them that they couldn't go home because they would have to go to court."
The girls have already appeared in court twice and have been "provisionally charged" with possessing and trying to export drugs.The pair, who live in North London, face a ten year jail term if convicted.
In London members of Miss Vatansever's family yesterday claimed they know the identity of the man known only as "Jay" who is said to have "duped" the girls into going to Ghana and bringing back the drugs.
"I think I know who is behind this," Miss Vatansever's uncle - who refused to be named - told friends and he added: "If the family is right then this man will pay for what he has done."
Concern over the treatment of the teenagers was voiced yesterday by Catherine Wolthuizen - Chief Executive of Fair Trials Abroad who fears they could be targeted by the drug gangs.
The girls are much more accessible than they would be in a British prison," she said.
"If they are caught up in a wider scale criminal activity it might not just be journalists who are trying to visit them.
"Clearly the prison is allowing people to visit them without checking their credentials and for anyone potentially mixed up in organised crime it is a matter of some concern."
She described them as the "two minnows" and not the big fish that customs should be targeting. She argued that the girls should have been allowed to travel to the UK and then picked up when they handed over the consignment of drugs.
"It would appear that British Customs have announced this more as a way of claiming success in their policing activities and haven't necessarily considered the consequences for the two girls," she said.
Last night the girls' families issued a statement through the campaign group Fair Trials Abroad and appealed for "privacy" adding:
"The families have been distressed at the arrests of Yasemin and Yetunde, and the accompanying media attention, which has been overwhelming.
"We ask that the media leave us in peace so that we can focus on supporting the girls and ensuring they receive the best legal advice and representation.
"We also ask that the media refrain from further attempts to contact or interview the girls, as this can only compromise their chances of a fair trial.
"Yetunde and Yasemin are two vulnerable young girls. Had they been arrested in the UK, they would not have been subjected to this intense public attention. The families have confidence in the Ghanaian justice system and in the lawyer representing them and ask that the privacy of all concerned be respected so they may prepare their defence."